Wildcats’ most victorious coach goes for 800th win

Lily Leung

Head fencing coach Laurie Schiller doesn’t think it’s just a possibility.

He said he’ll definitely reach the 800-win mark at the Midwest Duals this weekend. Only four wins away from the benchmark, Schiller already is the all-time winningest coach in any sport at Northwestern.

Schiller, who holds a 796-386 (.673) record after 26 years at NU, will have nine chances to reach the milestone at the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center on Saturday. Competing this weekend will be Bowling Green, University of Chicago, Florida, Lawrence, Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin. Sunday’s competition includes only men’s teams and NU’s club squad will be represented.

Schiller said his victory total isn’t just a number. It reflects on the program’s “consistency and stability,” he said.

“I think it would be a great accomplishment because it says something about our system,” Schiller said.

For the weekend, Schiller said he expects his team to win all of its matches because the other schools competing, exlcuding Lawrence, are just club teams. Still, he warned his fencers not to get overly confident.

“I can’t think of the last time any of the girls had lost to these teams,” he said. “There’s very little chance, (but) it’s very easy to lose to a less-experienced fencer if you don’t pay attention.”

Lawrence, which Schiller said will be his team’s only real challenge, lost to the Wildcats, 23-4, in the Fall. Schiller added that Lawrence likely will forfeit some matches because of an incomplete lineup — a situation other schools might face as well. Lawrence might not have the nine required fencers to make a full squad.

Although Schiller is concentrating heavily on getting wins, he said he’d like to see his novice fencers gain experience against opponents who aren’t on the varsity level.

“The point of this weekend isn’t to kill the other teams,” he said. “I want some of the girls to go out there and fence competitively.”

Last year, the Cats dominated the Midwest Duals with a 4-0 record. Two of those wins came against Michigan and Michigan State, both of which will compete this year.

As confident as Schiller is about hitting the “big 8-0-0” Saturday, he’s not breaking out the champagne bottle just yet.

“I’m just going to enjoy it and go on to the next day, ” he said. “Maybe I’ll celebrate when I reach the 1,000-mark.”